Director: Elliott Lester
Writer: Ken Bruen, Nathan Parker
Cast: Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen, David Morrissey, Zawe Ashton, Luke Evans, Mark Rylance
Running Time: 97 min.
“Blitz” is a 2011 police thriller starring Jason Statham and represents the first production effort from Lionsgate UK. While the film secured a theatrical release in the United Kingdom, it went straight to DVD and blu-ray in North America. After watching “Blitz,” I’m not surprised it was resigned to Redbox on our shores. You could argue whether American audiences would have responded to a cop movie set entirely in London without any American characters, but beyond that the movie is just a slow and tepid affair. If you’re looking for the next “Crank” or even “The Transporter,” don’t stop here. There’s very little action in this movie, which at 97 minutes feels almost twice as long due to poor directing and an aimless script.
The film starts off promisingly enough: Jason Statham wakes up in his apartment and hears some punks trying to jack a car outside. He heads to the streets with a giant wooden paddle and proceeds to beat the shit out of them. This scene is about as much fighting as Statham does the entire movie but it’s meant to establish right away that Jason Statham is a cop with an attitude – who plays by his own rules. You know, like “Dirty Harry” or every cop character that Steven Seagal ever played. Statham almost seems to be a parody of himself in this film: he’s a hard-drinking, cussing cop who constantly does things that would get a normal police officer thrown off the force. There’s even video surveillance footage of him beating a suspect with a pool cue and then stuffing an 8 ball in the guy’s mouth. But his superiors keep him around because “he’s the best” and “he gets results,” blah blah. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The problem for the screenwriters is that Jason Statham’s character is static and you can’t devote a feature length film to a character who doesn’t change. So a lot of the runtime is eaten up by supporting characters, like a young female cop who’s recently gotten out of a disastrous undercover stint that saw her hooked on drugs. The villain of the piece, a crazed killer who hates cops down to his very bones, might just get more screentime than Statham. The audience has to endure the sight of him giggling at quiz shows in his underwear.
The sad thing is, “Blitz” actually features a decent cast of British actors. Starring alongside Statham is Paddy Considine (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Dead Man’s Shoes”), who gives the film’s best performance. David Morrissey (“Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction,” “Centurion”) plays a sleazy journalist. We know he’s sleazy because he’s got porn on his laptop screen while he’s at work. The bad guy, played by Aidan Gillen, looked really familiar as soon as he appeared onscreen. It took me about twenty minutes to realize he was also the villain in the Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson vehicle “Shanghai Knights.” If you had the misfortune of seeing WWF star John Cena’s “Speed” rip-off “12 Rounds,” he was the bad guy there too. The guy seems to get typecast as these deranged, borderline-megomaniacal villains and he’s no stranger to overacting, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who will find him to be the most entertaining thing about “Blitz.” Statham himself is kind of a vacuum of charisma, seeing as all he does is talk in his usual put-on raspy voice and drink a lot of whiskey.
I struggled to hear the dialogue in “Blitz” since a lot of is delivered in a whisper or masked behind thick British accents. This is the kind of movie you may want to turn the subtitles on for even though it’s in English. Then again, I’m not sure if understanding what the characters were saying would have made “Blitz” any more enjoyable. Here’s a sample exchange that I did manage to pick up:
STATHAM: Did she get a good look at the suspect?
COP: No. She just said he was big and white.
STATHAM: Big and white, eh? So he’s not the black kid from “Different Strokes.”
Groan. Making a good Jason Statham movie is not rocket science. When I rent a movie with him on the cover, I want to see him talk some shit, get into a few tussles or shoot-outs, maybe drive a cool car, and put the villain through some serious pain. “Blitz” doesn’t deliver any of that. Worse yet, it seems to advocate that that London Police be allowed to use excessive force and execute suspects when they deem necessary. Considering the current climate of phone-hacking scandals and widescale riots over in England, this is probably not the most socially responsible message to send.
The movie is an adaption of the novel by Ken Bruen, which I have not read. Maybe fans of the book will be more pleased with “Blitz.” For me it failed to be even a passable way to spend a night in front of the TV. There’s an on-foot “chase” at climax of the movie, in which Aidan Gillen’s character shadows Jason Statham, that is indicative of the poor filmmaking behind “Blitz.” This scene just goes on forever. I started to feel bad for the composer since he had to generate so much ‘suspenseful music’ to cover what felt like ten minutes of Aidan Gillen trailing behind Statham – first at a graveyard, then in traffic, to a parking garage, and finally up a flight of stairs that felt endless. At this point the audience has got to be screaming: get to the point already! “Blitz” never does, and then it’s over.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 4/10